South Carolina

Why the USC logo disappeared from Columbia’s Gamecock BI-LO

BI-LO has ended its three-decade-long partnership with University of South Carolina athletics as part of a larger movement to ax all collegiate marketing partnerships, officials said.

The partnership, which had been in place more than 30 years, ended July 1, according to Joe Caldwell, senior manager of corporate communications for BI-LO’s parent company.

“As a retailer dedicated to giving its customers an experience they can always count on, we constantly have to evaluate the investments that we make into our people, our stores, our products and our communities,” Caldwell said in an email to The State. “This was a difficult decision, however, we are continuing to invest in our communities through store remodels and neighborhood outreach programs.

“It’s been an honor to support the Gamecocks for more than three decades and we will always be fans of the program,” he continued. “We wish the university the best of luck in the upcoming seasons and will continue to support the school and its fans across the BI-LO footprint.”

USC spokesman Jeff Stensland confirmed that BI-LO and its parent company ended their relationship with USC sports at the end of June. Stensland said it’s the understanding of USC officials that the grocery chain is ending all collegiate marketing partnerships.

As a result of the nixed partnership, BI-LO will no longer be the naming sponsor of the Berm at Founders Park, where the Gamecock baseball team plays, Stensland said. The chain’s ticket giveaway promotions, including those for tickets to USC and Clemson baseball games, also will end since they were part of the marketing sponsorship.

Clemson University also has maintained a longstanding partnership with BI-LO; however, the status of that partnership was unclear Wednesday.

The chain closed 94 of its stores across the country last year, 19 of which were in South Carolina, The State reported previously. One of those was the store on Old Greenville Highway in Clemson, which was emblazoned with an orange logo that featured the Clemson tiger paw in the center of it.

Teddy Kulmala covers breaking news for The State and covered crime and courts for seven years in Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken and Lumberton, N.C. He graduated from Clemson University and grew up in Barnwell County.